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Moving From A Silage Diet To Ad-Lib Cereals

16 March 2017

On a recent farm visit the subject of moving cattle on store diets based on silage onto ad-lib cereals without causing acidosis and other issues was discussed. One system discussed was where all males were finished at 14 months plus and 390 kg deadweight.  For much of their finishing period they were still be on silage and then moved slowly onto ad-lib cereals.

The cattle (pure Angus cattle run on commercial basis) are born from 1st April – system and kept entire but the system is also applicable to steers.  Creep introduced 6 weeks prior to weaning and the herd weaned in early November.

Up to 1st January 4,400 kg silage and 600 kg concentrates (barley, soya, minerals mix) are fed always based on a 5 tonne TMR so everything mixed in.  Straw fed separate at all times in ring feeders.

  • 1st January – moved on 4,200 kg silage and 800 kg concentrates. Straw available in ring feeders at all times.  Each week the mix is altered by increasing the concentrates by 200 kg and reducing the silage by 200 kg so keeping to a 5 tonne mix.
  • End of January cattle are all clipped along their backs again to release heat. Pour on for lice etc given.
  • Aim is to have them on 1,000 kg silage and 4,000 kg concentrates by 1st
  • Then by middle of end of May and the mix is reduced to 600 kg silage. Two weeks later the silage is removed and so they are on ad-lib concentrates with straw in feeders.


390 kg deadweight = 700 kg liveweight

Age 420 days

Assuming 45 kg birth weight = 1.56 kg day from birth

Simple effective system.  Suits what the market wants today and seems to be low risk system.


These changes to the ration in fresh weight might look small but in terms of DM they are significant.

Increase In Ration DM Supplied From Concentrates

SilageConcentrates% Concs In DM
Fresh WeightDry WeightFresh WeightDry Weight

Assuming silage 30% DM, concentrates 85% DM

For example a drop of 200 kg in silage is 60 kg less DM while the same increase in concentrates adds 170 kg more DM!

Gavin Hill,

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